With the switch from Daylight Saving Time it comes a loss of daylight. How will this time change affect your body and how can you make sure you stay motivated as it gets darker, earlier? We spoke to Jamie Costello, Director of Fitness at Pritikin Longevity Center to get the answers to those questions and more.
Time Change And Biological Clocks
What happens to our biological clocks during a time change and the winter season? The good news is that falling back has less of a disruption for our bodies.
“Human beings have an internal circadian clock that provides a natural timing for activity during daylight hours and rest during the nighttime,” explains Costello. “Exposure to daylight is the primary trigger for this mechanism. Studies have show that most people adjust to the release from Daylight Savings Time (DST) in the autumn, but the spring DST implementation has the greatest impact to the human circadian system.”
Changes To Sleep And Our Fitness
How does the change to our sleep rhythm affect our fitness? It has a large impact, as expected.
“Sleep deprivation can lead to a reduction workout effort levels,” notes Costello. “Less sleep also means less recovery and a greater chance for injury. It is important to factor in your rest levels all year round when choosing the type, time, and intensity of your workout.”
How To Adjust Goals After Daylight Saving Time
So, how can you adjust fitness goals after Daylight Saving? Be prepared and don’t overexert yourself—especially during the first week after the change.
“For many, energy levels are low due to lack of sleep during the first week of Daylight Saving; if this is the case, reducing the level of intensity and time is a good idea during the first week,” shares Costello. “It is not the time to attempt personal bests or records in the gym while your body is adjusting to a new schedule.”
Costello adds if you already have a healthy and frequent habit of exercise, you should maintain it. If you want to start an exercise routine, you should wait until a week has passed from the clocks changing.
“For those contemplating beginning an exercise routine, it is never a good idea to start during a transitional or stressful period,” he notes.
Precautions And When To Schedule Your Workout
“After Daylight Saving, studies show a measured increase in accidents,” stresses Costello. “For those who exercise outside, extra caution is warranted to avoid sleep deprived drivers. In addition, light conditions outdoors may may change dramatically. Dressing with light reflective clothing and shoes for all workouts outside is a good idea, and mandatory in the mornings and evenings.”
There is no best time for you to workout–mornings, afternoons and evenings are all great—as long as you can be consistent and follow safety rules.
“Saying that, I have found most people who exercise first thing in the morning have an easier time sticking to a schedule,” adds Costello. “For those who prefer evening workouts, the only caveat is not to exercise too close to bedtime as it can impair your ability to fall asleep.”